Converting confectionery residues into on-site energy


At one of Europe’s largest confectionery factories an example is being set that other food processors should emulate.  Nestlé chose Clearfleau in 2013 to install an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at its confectionery factory at Fawdon, Newcastle.  The plant processes over 200,000 litres of wash-waters per day plus 1,200 tonnes of product residues per year, to supply renewable energy to the site.
This resulted in:

8% of power requirement supplied from biogas10% reduction in site’s overall carbon footprint£300,000 in incentive revenue / energy savings £200,000 savings on disposal and discharge costs Nestlé recognised in Dow Jones Sustainability Index’s 
Nestlé,  the world’s leading food and nutrition company, is committed to a sustainable zero-waste target, guaranteeing all UK factories will no longer send waste to landfill by the end of 2015. Fawdon is a reference site for low carbon manufacturing with AD providing the initial impetus.
Most food and drink manufacturers face the challenge of disposing of liquid and solid production residues.  Clearfleau’s unique on-site anaerobic digestion technology allows cost effective handling of degradable solid materials - they are digested alongside the site’s liquid residues. 
Alongside a detailed procurement exercise, the operation of Clearfleau’s mobile trial unit on the site confirmed the ability to process both liquid and solid residues.  After the trial, Clearfleau was asked to install the compact AD plant at the edge of the factory site.

The on-site AD process removes over 95% of the biodegradable load (COD) fed to the digester.   The biogas produced by the AD plant powers a combined heat and power (CHP) engine.   This generates up to 200kW of electricity, supplied to the confectionery production process.
Nestlé now discharges cleansed water directly to the sewer and is no longer trucking solid process residues to pig farms.  Over 250,000 litres of feedstock per day produce renewable energy.  With annual energy savings/revenue of £300,000, Nestlé leads the way in sustainable manufacturing.   
Nestlé scored an industry best of 99% in the "environmental dimension” of the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index- one of the most sustainable food production companies – due in no small part to the innovative on-site AD plant supplied by Clearfleau.
On-site AD can transform the handling of liquid and solid production residues.  Combining energy extraction with water recycling in an AD plant can deliver a triple benefit to food manufacturers like Nestlé:  minimising carbon and water footprints while boosting CSR credentials and upholding hard-won brand images.  It also delivers an attractive payback based on savings and incentive payments.
The on-site AD plant is an example of the Circular Economy in practice.  When announcing the project Nestlé’s former Head of Sustainability, Inder Poonaji, commented :
"We chose an innovative British bio-energy technology provider because we wanted to design a plant to meet our specific needs.  On-site treatment of production residues will help us reduce the wider environmental impact of our business and meet our sustainability goals. By working with Clearfleau we are reducing our carbon footprint and generate value from production residues.”
Nestlé has recognized the value of decentralised energy production and the need to encourage British industry to do more to generate their own energy After the recent Paris Climate Change Summit, CEO’s of global food companies including Nestlé stated: 
"We want the facilities where we make our products to be powered by renewable energy with nothing going to waste.”  Nestlé Fawdon is an example of what is being advocated and shows that this capability is already available in the UK.

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